Traversing around our massive magical continent, we meet so many inspiring everyday Aussies from all walks of life. This includes more and more women, many of whom are solo caravanning.
Jude Curtis is one of many single women towing a rig around. Beating cancer 19 years ago, she lives for each precious moment getting her 19 foot caravan out at any opportunity. Jude, a single, self-funded retiree from Colac, Victoria, has been caravanning for three years.
We met her in South Australia and were inspired by her story.
In days gone by, it was rare to see single women towing caravans but thankfully, the hurdles are gradually disappearing and thousands of women are livin’ the dream.
“Being a single woman towing a caravan around does have its challenges,” Jude says.
“I don’t have the physical strength to lift things. Everything’s heavy: the jockey wheel, levelling bars, when a male tightens the gas the bottle, it’s hard to undo. But I always find people in caravan parks are very helpful.”
Another challenge of towing without a sidekick is that you don’t have a navigator in the passenger seat. Jude recently towed the van to Merimbula (NSW), and has some sage advice.
“Towing the van over Melbourne’s Westgate Bridge and tunnels was daunting; a semi-truck each side,” she says.
“But so long as I take my time and think about it, it’s fine when I’m out on the open road – it just follows you. You just have to be mindful of wind, don’t overpack the van and take it easy.”
“If it’s tight (reversing the van into a caravan sight), there’s always someone to help you out. I like it when I get to a park and all these men come out to watch, and I back in straight in. They look at each other in disbelief and go back into their vans!”
Although towing lessons are available, Jude is self-taught and like anything, practice has improved her confidence and ability.
Jude says the caravanning lifestyle gives her the freedom of going where she wants to go, and provides her with the personal satisfaction that she can do it.
Some people have security concerns when travelling alone, and with this in mind Jude restricts her camping adventures to caravan parks, as there is more security and she feels safer knowing there are others around.
Even while travelling alone, caravanning and camping provides many social opportunities, and guarantees time to unwind.
“There’s nothing to do but relax. When I’m at home, I always find something to do.”
“Sometimes it’s social, sometimes isolating, as when you’re on your own, there’s always couples around and they stick to who they know,” Jude says.
“Caravanning alone has the benefit where I can opt in and out of social situations.”
And if she ever gets lonely, her four-year-old labradoodle Coco is a great drawcard and conversation starter! When Jude is out in the caravan, she loves nothing more than walking Coco along the beaches of the many destinations she can take her ‘portable home’ to.
After defeating cancer in the year 2000, Jude’s perspective on life changed dramatically.
“Life’s too damn short, that’s why I retired early,” she says.
“What’s the point in working up to the point you die. You’re too old to enjoy those things.”
“Don’t be scared to take it on. We are capable of doing it. It’s just believing in ourselves and making it happen.”
This is the passion that drives Jude to get out on the road and taste the endless adventures our glorious country offers, and the freedom of solo caravanning.
So, single ladies. What are you waiting for?